In late spring of 1969, rock band The Who released what has since become one of the most beloved and important albums in its extensive catalogue when it released Tommy. the 24-song, 75-minute opus was a dramatic turning point for the band because it was at a point in its life at which it was growing in age and maturity, and thus trying to stay relevant. Those changes, along with discussions among the band and its management, led to the creation of Tommy. While the band toured extensively between 1969 and 1970 in support of the album, it never actually performed that now seminal record in whole in one setting. This past April, almost 48 years after Tommy first debuted, the band performed the landmark album in full for the first time at London’s Royal Albert Hall, one of the world’s most iconic live venues. The facility has played host to everything from the 10th Anniversary performance of Les Miserables to Eric Clapton to Heart and so many other events and acts. Now thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, audiences of all ages will finally get to experience this first time performance from The Who on multiple platforms including DVD, Blu-ray and digital. It goes without saying that this recording is one that classic rock fans and those of The Who will equally appreciate this recording, and not only for the sake of the set list, the central point of the recording. The band’s performance here is just as important to discuss in examining the recording as the set list itself. The recording’s bonus material rounds out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own right to the recording’s whole. All things considered, the recording in whole proves to be an excellent addition to the library of any fan of The Who and any classic rock aficionado.
Tommy Live at the Royal Albert Hall is a recording that classic rock fans and fans of The Who alike will want to have in their music libraries. It is hardly the band’s first live recording or the first live recording of its type from any band or group. Despite all that, it still proves itself a recording that rock fans across the board will appreciate. That is due in part to the set list. It has already been stated that this show was primarily a performance of The Who’s seminal concept album Tommy. While the concert was primarily the band’s first-time ever performance of that album, the band doesn’t focus solely on Tommy. Along with that album’s whole, the band also includes seven encores after the fact. The encores aren’t just random songs, either, but even more of the band’s biggest numbers. They include the timeless ‘Baba O’Riley,’ ‘I Can See For Miles,’ ‘Who Are You’ and others. The inclusion of those extra numbers shows that the band didn’t want to just present the one album in this show, but to give its audiences something more, almost as a way of saying thank you to the audience for coming out and packing the center. The fact that the concert was performed all as a benefit for the Teenage Cancer Trust, which helps young people diagnosed with cancer, makes the whole thing that much more enjoyable and endearing. Of course even with this in mind, the show’s set list is just one of the recording’s key elements. The band’s performance of said list is just as important to discuss as the set list itself.
The band’s performance of Tommy shows that while Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry are getting up there in age, there is seemingly no sign of slowing or stopping for the longtime friends and band mates. The men, along with fellow musicians Zak Starkey, Simon Townshend, John Corey, Loren Gold and Frank Simes, give their all in each song. The result of that collective effort is a performance that will keep home viewers just as engaged as those who were in attendance at the concert’s taping early this year. The band uses minimal visual aid in its performance, too, opting for simple visuals on a screen versus any amount of pyro or anything else to heighten the show’s energy. This minimalist approach allows the band to put its talents on full display, with a great result, too — a result that reminds audiences why The Who is, collectively, still today, one of the most respected names in the music community. From Townshend’s propeller-like guitar playing to Daltry’s continued ability to vocally soar and even the timekeeping and more, there is so much talent on display. When that talent is coupled with the very fact that this performance is the band’s first time ever performing Tommy live in whole as a whole band, the two elements serve to make this recording well worth the watch by themselves. Of course, one would be remiss to ignore the bonus material included with the recording, as it presents its own importance.
Audiences learn through the recording’s bonus behind-the-scenes material that rehearsals for the band’s Royal Albert Hall concert took nearly a month (three weeks to be exact), and took place at a very well-known British studio were some major movies and TV shows were recorded. Viewers also learn through this roughly 10 – 15 minute featurette the band’s charity roots and why it works so diligently with various charities. The revelation is certain to move anyone who might have otherwise not known these pieces of information. There is also some light-hearted commentary from Roger Daltry about Tommy’s influence on him both personally and creatively that will enlighten and entertain audiences regardless of their familiarity with the band, its body of work and its history. These and other pieces of information included in the behind-the-scenes featurette make this item the recording’s central bonus material. The two music videos for ‘the Acid Queen’ and ‘Pinball Wizard’ are the proverbial icing on the cake, adding that final touch to its presentation. When all of this is set alongside the recording’s set list and the band’s performance thereof, the whole of these elements makes Tommy overall, a welcome addition to the personal music library of any classic rock aficionado and any fan of The Who. Tommy Live at the Royal Albert Hall is available now in stores and online. More information on this recording is available online now along with all of The Who’s latest news and more at:
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